As more and more software and services companies roll out social tools and features, jumping onto the bandwagon of the move to the social organization, managers at every level are being asked to investigate social -- and find out how it can benefit the organization. For what it's worth, I think that most vendors have done a terrible job in articulating the business benefits of social. The easy escape is to offer up platitudes of qualitattive improvements that are, at best, difficult to measure and validate
If social improves communication and collaboration, why do so many organizations struggle with seeing those benefits? The measurement gap with social is in understanding how social activities (such as threaded discussions, internal and external blogging, pervasive sharing options across the environment) tie back directly to the structured processes and content management systems that truly drive value into your organization.
Here's how I explain the values of social to mu customers:
It improves team communication -- While the terms "social" and "collaboration" are often blurred, I like to separate their definitions by saying that social technology helps teams collaborate by providing a communication channel across traditional data silos. Social is the tool by which collaboration is achieved. Social helps teams connect and relate whether they are across the hall, across campus, or around the world. It works synchronously (we're collaborating in real-time) and asynchronously (I reply to your comment and provide some edits to your document while you're offline), and thus improves communication.
It extends search -- Social builds, extends, and improves search through the dynamic creation of end-user-generated keywords, or folksonomy. As users connect and discuss content, they apply tags or keywords that help them personally relate to that content, and track themes or data trends. Every Like, every tag, every rating, and every share helps improve the overall search experience by adding to the folksonomy or inviting others to add to the folksonomy, which helps improve your system taxonomy -- improving overall search.
It helps to identify expertise -- Upload dozens of documents on a single topic, and you will likely be recognized as an expert (at least by volume) on a topic. But social helps surface subject matter experts (SMEs) directly, or more importantly, indirectly through their activities. As people like, rate, follow, and share content through social tools, those social interactions begin surfacing in search results, and the people who most actively engage in social responses appear as experts on the topic because of their social activities. This is expertise that you might not otherwise identify if not for the social tools used.
It provides data context and correlation -- As people interact with the content you upload, they relate your content with other relevant content, such as projects you might not be member of, studies that may correlate, or conversations on similar topics that you may not be aware of elsewhere in your organization. These conversations, tags, links, and sharing help to build context to your content that you alone might never be able to accomplish.
It surfaces questions and answers -- It never hurts to have multiple means through which users can find the answers they need to business questions. As social becomes more and more of a layer between enterprise applications, people are able to leverage their networks of experts much more quickly than, say, through a search page. Social provides a quick and easy way to share data and knowledge.
As with any technology deployment, you rarely recognize the financial benefit when you cannot first identify the business goal. That's certainly the case with social. The real key to gaining business benefit out of social is to begin with a clear definition of your desired business outcomes. Know what you want to achieve up front.#Collaboration #Taxonomy #folksonomy #social #contextualsearch